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Bend housing bounce

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Articles - December 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011

By Peter Beland

Northwest Crossing building permits accounted for 21% of all housing permits issued in the city as of October.
// Photo by Matt Garner

Despite a housing market that is still depressed, one housing development in Bend — one of the hardest-hit cities in the housing-led recession — seems to be bouncing back. As of October, 21% (about 59) of all 2011 single-family new home construction permits in the city were issued for Northwest Crossing, according to city data, the most for any single development for single-family homes.

The 486-acre mixed-use development currently has around 600 housing units built, roughly half its capacity. It has seen continuous growth in the past three years, according to the company.

Between 2000 and 2010, Deschutes County had among the highest population growth rates in the country at 36.7%. But it also saw a 78.6% increase in vacant homes in that same time period. During the recession, home values were cut in half and unemployment was well over 16%. “I haven’t seen a subdivision application in years,” says Bend senior planner Heidi Kennedy.

The 10-year-old Northwest Crossing bucks that downward trend with its appeal to high-end consumers and an emphasis on sustainable, urban living. The median home price at Northwest Crossing is $372,000 versus Bend’s Q3 2009 median home price of $212,000.

With more than a mile and a half of tree-lined trails that interconnect with businesses located on the first floors of sustainably built homes, to light industrial parks next to greenways, the development has attracted consumers from across the country looking for a place in which to live, work and play. Northwest Crossing general manager David Ford said he and his colleagues spent years consulting with mixed-use designers such as Portland-based Walker Macy before settling on the final layout for the community.

A decade ago, Bend did not even have a zoning code for what property developer West Bend Property Co. had in mind: high-density and mixed-use. “It has a diversity of design you don’t see in other subdivisions,” says Kennedy.

A small fraction of Northwest Crossing is low-income housing. To date, the development includes Discovery Park Lodge senior affordable housing project as well as three low-income housing units, with another on the way.

Bend’s beauty attracted many homeowners in the past and still does in the case of Northwest Crossing, even as the region continues to struggle. “I think we’ll continue to see people working on remodels and additions,” says Kennedy. “But it’s spread out and not as frenzied. That’ll be our future for a while.”


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